I have a dear friend who finished her PhD in the spring. Shortly after graduation, she interviewed for and was offered a tenure-line position at a quality university. A month ago she received a letter in the mail from her new university welcoming her to the program and outlining her orientation schedule.
The letter began, "Dear Professor Moore."
She did a double-take. She told me, "I looked at the letter and thought, Who's that?" Then I realized it was me. And then I threw up."
She's absolutely going to make it.
This fall marks my thirteenth year of teaching, the last eight of which have been at the university-level. Tomorrow is the first day of classes.
Admittedly, I still get slightly nervous on the first day. Earlier this evening I carefully packed my work bag, wrote down my assigned classrooms, and picked out what clothes I'm going to wear in case I'm incapable of making a decision tomorrow morning. (This closet-induced mental paralysis has been known to happen. I stand there like a lost child, mindlessly sliding hangers along the rod as I give myself a weak pep-talk: Think, Robin, think! You can do this. You're capable of dressing yourself!)
Tonight I'll triple-check my alarm clock. Tomorrow morning I'll throw out half of my cereal instead of eating it all like I normally do. And then, at the moment when I pass out copies of the syllabus and begin talking to my new students, I'll be just fine.
This twinge of nervousness, pesky as it is, reminds me that I care. Plus, I love that I can sit down with my seven-year-old who's just two days shy of starting second grade, and tell her that I understand how she's feeling.
It doesn't matter if you're climbing on the school bus, watching your children as they're climbing on the school bus, or facing a group of college students from the front of the classroom. Everyone feels these first days of school.